Bill to raise executive's pay has support on board

Increase would start in 2007

proposed raises for council less certain

March 12, 2006|By PHILLIP MCGOWAN | PHILLIP MCGOWAN,SUN REPORTER

Anne Arundel County Council members appear sympathetic to a salary increase for the next county executive but more skeptical about the need for increased council salaries, as they prepare to take up two bills on the salary issue at a work session Tuesday.

Four of the seven council members, including chairman Edward R. Reilly, a Crofton Republican, have sponsored a bill that would boost the executive's salary to $125,000 from $102,000 in 2007 and to $130,000 in 2010.

County Councilman Bill D. Burlison, an Odenton Democrat, has sponsored a bill to impose cost-of-living raises for County Council members that would be in line with recommendations made last year by a county committee.

Under Burlison's legislation, pay for the council chairman would go to $43,829 from $40,500 in 2010. The vice chairman's salary would rise from $37,000 to $40,050 in that same period. Other council members' salaries would increase to $38,968 from $36,000.

Reilly has led a chorus of opposition against increasing the pay of council members. Burlison could not be reached for comment on Friday, although he referred last year to the salary recommendations for the council as "very conservative."

County elections will be held in November.

Several council members have called the executive's salary inadequate compared with counterparts throughout the region and with the county's own payroll. According to county records, 63 county employees make more than County Executive Janet S. Owens.

That doesn't include salaries set by the Board of Education. For example, former Superintendent Eric J. Smith drew $203,000 last year. His entire benefits package, which included a car, pushed the compensation to about $300,000. His replacement, Nancy M. Mann, is being paid $15,000 a month on an interim basis through the end of June.

County Councilman Ronald C. Dillon Jr., a Pasadena Republican, said that "given the size of the county and the complexity of the job, [the pay increase] is warranted."

Owens was attending bond-rating hearings in New York on Friday and was unavailable for comment, a spokesman said.

In the past, the executive has not supported a raise for herself, but she has been on record as supporting raises for future executives.

Owens, a Democrat, requested the use of a private car and police protection shortly after she was elected in 1998. That decision was criticized by Republicans during her re-election bid in 2002. County officials estimated the cost of salaries, overtime and vehicle expenses at $500,000 for her first four years in office.

County Councilwoman Barbara D. Samorajczyk, an Annapolis-area Democrat, said she is generally supportive of the raise for the next executive, but is interested in comparing Owens' full compensation package with those of other jurisdictions.

"What is the full cost to the taxpayer?" Samorajczyk said. "I want to make sure the comparisons are accurate."

phill.mcgowan@baltsun.com

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